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This Week With George Stephanopoulos

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Romney 20, Obama 12, Us 12, America 7, Jake 5, Afghanistan 5, Dodd 4, Joe Biden 4, Paul Ryan 4, Ohio 4, Donna 3, Abc 3, China 3, Newt Gingrich 3, Ryan 3, Pacific 3, Ronald Reagan 3, Biden 3, Donna Brazile 3, Gingrich 3,
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  ABC    This Week With George Stephanopoulos    News/Business. Political  
   guests and viewpoints. New. (CC)  

    October 14, 2012
    8:00 - 9:00am PDT  

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good morning, welcome to "this week." >> it's on. >> i think people would be better served if we don't keep interrupting each other. >> well, don't take all the four minutes then. >> vice president biden brings the heat. >> with all due respect, that's a bunch of malarkey. >> but congressman paul ryan stands firm. >> i think the vice president very well knows that sometimes the words don't come out of your mouth the right bay. >> the big question. biden's aggressive approach energized democrats. did it risk alienating independents? what should we expect on tuesday, when obama and romney meet for the second face-off? we'll ask our headliner, ohio senator rob portman, the man playing president obama in mitt romney's debate prep.
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and the vice president's son, delaware attorney general bo biden. insights and analysis from our all-star panel. former presidential candidates newt gingrich and chris dodd. george will, donna brazile, richard norton smith and the moderator of thursday night's debate -- >> it was a preplanned assault by heavily armed men. wasn't this a massive intelligence failure? >> abc's martha raddatz. it's a special discussion about the debates along with our partners at the university of virginia's miller center. good morning, everyone. george is off today. we're in the home stretch of this campaign. 23 days until the final votes are cast. all eyes are on tuesday's debate in a sign of how seriously the
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president is taking the second debate, he's spending the weekend not on the campaign trail, but instead, hunkered down for debate prep. his campaign went on the air yesterday with a new ad featuring a familiar voice. >> every president inherits challenges. few have faced so many. there are still challenges to meet. but the last thing we should do is turn back now. >> that's actor morgan freeman, of course. as for the republican ticket, they spent saturday fanned out across the critical battleground state of ohio, enjoying favorable press and swelling crowds. >> our crowds keep getting bigger and bigger. there's more of a passion about changing washington and getting a new president. [ cheers and applause ] >> we'll cover the campaign and the debates from all angles this morning. the vice president's son, delaware attorney general bo biden is standing by. we begin with ohio, senator rob portman is in romney headquarters in boston, working on debate prep with governor
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romney. good morning, senator portman. >> good morning, jake. how are you? >> i'm well. thank you. as we said in the open, you're playing president obama in the debate prep. here's governor romney talking about the role you play. >> he's playing barack obama in these mock debates we have. i don't like him very much anymore. he keeps beating me up. i keep going away shaking my head. this guy's really something. you're lucky to have a guy so bright and capable. >> and this morning, washington post reporter dan balls called you the romney campaign's most valuable player for your roles as ohio point man and obama stand in. i assume you're thinking president obama will have more pep in his step on tuesday. how do you prepare? >> i think you're right. i think president obama is going to come out swinging. he'll have to compensate for a poor first debate. they've run a highly negative ad campaign. they've spent hundreds of millions around the country,
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including a lot in ohio, mischaracterizing governor romney's positions and misrepresenting him. i think you'll see that again on tuesday night. >> congressman ryan said something at the debate i would love for you to explain. here he is. >> joe and i are from similar towns. he's from scranton, pennsylva a pennsylvania, i'm from janesville, wisconsin. do you know what the unemployment rate is in scranton today? >> sure do. >> it's 10.5 percent. it was 8.5% the day you guys came in. that's how it's going all around america. >> this has been weak economic recovery, without question. but it is a recovery. and unemployment is going down, as a factual matter. why would congress ryan suggest otherwise? >> unemployment is higher today than when the president took office. i think ryan is telling the truth. unfortunately in the meantime, we've created net zero jobs. the weakest recovery since the great depression. i think he's right. we are happy to see some
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improvement in the economy. but the fact is, the economy is iraq this year than i was last year. it was weaker last year than the year before. we're not heading in the right direction. >> the administration is being criticized for reaction to and how it dealt with the attacks in benghazi, libya. and saying the attacks are a campaign issue. this is the first time that an ambassador has been assassinated in governor romney's words. the ambassador's father said this morning t would be abhorrent to make this into a campaign issue. does the fact that the ambassador's father doesn't want this to be campaign issue cause you any concern about governor romney bringing it up on the stump? >> well, he didn't say it was a campaign issue. he said it was an issue. it's something the american people are concerned about, jake. look, you have been on top of this. i've seen some of the tough
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questions you have been asking the white house on it. folks want to know why wasn't the security there and why did the administration try so hard to create the wrong image of what happened? they went out of their way to try to leave the impression this was because of some video. it wasn't. it was a premeditated terrorist attack. we lost an ambassador and three other brave americans. it needs to be explained to the american people. folks deserve an explanation. >> in ohio especially, governor romney is making an issue about cracking down on china and china's cheating. this other issue, governor romney gets a cut of the profits in bain capital's investments in chinese companies. is there not a disconnect with what the governor wants to do and how he's continuing to profit off the very problems he criticizes? >> yeah, jake, no. i don't think there is a disconnect at all.
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all this stuff is in a blind trust. a lot of americans are invested in international investments. i sure president obama is as well. the issue is what are we going to do about trade? we need to open more markets. i'm the former u.s. trade rep. it's unbelievable that the united states has sat on the sidelines for the last four years. hasn't negotiated a single trade-opening agreement. the rest of the world continues to negotiate them. 40 or 50 have been negotiated. taking away our market share from our worker, our farmers, our service providers. at the same time, we haven't been tough enough on countries not playing by the rules. one is china. as you know, i'm the sponsor of the currency legislation in congress. we think they manipulate their currency. it ought to be addressed. it's a trade issue. it affects the cost of their exports to us. they're lower as a result of it. it makes it more expensive for us to send stuff to them. these are legitimate issues in ohio. and i thing governor romney ought to keep raising them. >> we have one minute left. i'm turning to ohio. let's look at the latest poll.
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from after the first debate. president obama in the lead still, 51% to romney's 45%. that's from after the first presidential debate. does governor romney have a path to the presidency without ohio? i know you're going to say that he will win ohio. can he win the presidency without it? >> he can probably win the presidency without ohio, but i wouldn't want to take the risk. no republican has. we're doing great in ohio. if you look at the average of all the polls, it's about dead even in ohio right now. the momentum is on our side. it's been terrific. i've been to half dozen rallies in the last week. i've never seen this energy and enthusiasm on the ground. we have already made three times more phone calls through the volunteers since 2008. we've knocked on 25 times more doors than 2008. something is going on on the ground. it's turning our way. the president will continue the attack, not focus on the substances of the issues that the people care about but
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continuing the attack. >> thank you, senator portman. we appreciate your time. >> thank you, jake. now we turn to the vice president's son, delaware attorney general bo biden. bo, thank you for joining us. >> great to be with you, jake. >> i hate to put you in the awkward position of having to defend your father. i wouldn't want to have to do that as much as i love my father. but he is the vice president and you are here on this show, so i have to start with a criticism of your father's style the other night. many out there were saying his eye rolls, laughter, smile, were too much and overshadowed the substance of what he was saying. the romney/ryan ticket has a new tv ad. >> did they come in and inherit a tough situation? absolutely. we're going in the wrong direction. look at where we are. the economy is barely limping along. don't raise taxes on small businesses. they're our job creators. >> smiling and laughing while congressman ryan was talking about serious issues. was his body language at all,
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his facial expressions counterproductive? >> not at all. i'm happy to defend my dad. i don't think he needs defending. anytime folks on the far right are going after my father for smiling too much, that's a victory. my father spoke clearly to the american people about the facts. he did that for 90 minutes straight. this is not about how much my father smiled or how many gallons of water the congressman drank nervously on the stage. it's about talking directly to the american people about very important facts. what you say from my father was him articulating the vision that he and the president have and continuing to build the middle class out and take the country forward. i was struck by paul ryan on a number of fronts. especially the position on afghanistan. i feel very strongly about that. >> i want to get to that -- go ahead, i'm sorry. >> yeah, sure. well, look. i mean, you had him suggest, if not open the door, to put
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additional troops in afghanistan. it is a remarkable position to take. >> wasn't he making the point that pulling troops out of afghanistan, especially in regional command east, where i have been, where your father has been many times, isn't it accurate to say that generals prefer to pull out the troops after the fighting season has ended, not during? wasn't that the larger strategic point he was making? >> i'm not sure if he knows what the strategic point he was making was. the point that i heard and the american people heard -- we heard my father articulate we wouldn't have forces in afghanistan by 2014. and you heard the congressman equivocate on that. not be willing to guarantee the american people that we wouldn't have forces in afghanistan, which will then be the nation's longest war. >> your father raised eyebrows when asked about requests for more security on the ground in libya. here's what he said. >> we were not told they wanted more security. we did not know that wanted more security.
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>> we weren't told. the white house now says that when the vice president said we, he meant him and the president, not the obama administration at large. obviously, the state department was told they wanted more security. isn't that a copout? you're speaking in front of 50 million americans and you're saying, we weren't told, when people in the state department were, in fact, told. >> not at all. he was speaking for himself and the president. as you heard from the briefing room the other day. this is a tragedy when we lose an ambassador and three other personnel. the president is going to make sure that we investigate what happened. the president is going to do what he did with osama bin laden and al qaeda. he's going to find these people and bring them to justice. and fourthly, jake, you know, this is not a moment in time we should be politicizing these issues. i have served with and know and personal friends who are in the foreign service as we speak.
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the idea that romney and ryan are suggesting that the president of the united states doesn't take seriously the security of our diplomats and foreign service officers around the world, i find outrageous, especially outrageous coming from the congressman who, in his budget, proposed to cut diplomatic security by $200 million to $300 million. this is a group of folks not ready for prime time. governor romney goes to london, offends our closest ally, walks out on 10 downing street and tells the press corps he just met with intelligence. these are people that seem to want to pound their chests, not worry about national security. >> bo biden. that's all the time we have, regrettably. thank you for joining us. we appreciate it. when we come back, a special discussion with our all-star panel. all about these presidential debates. did the first two debates shake up the election? did debates ever change elections? what can we expect in the final
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two romney-obama face-offs? we'll be back with our special panel and live audience. right here from the newseum. ♪ [ male announcer ] navigating your future can be daunting without a financial plan. your plan should be built to your specific needs so that it lasts through every stage of your life. ♪ at pacific life, we can give you the tools to help you achieve financial independence. ♪ tools that help you protect your family, supplement your retirement, build your business, and plan your legacy. ♪ for more than 140 years, pacific life has assisted families and businesses in meeting their goals, even in uncertain economic times.
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♪ can't start a fire
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before we begin, a reminder that your performance tonight is extremely unlikely to affect the outcome of the election. so, just have fun with it. >> you bet. you bet. >> okay. >> first of all, i want to thank the college for hosting us this weekend. >> oh, boy, here we go. oh, man. >> four years ago, president obama made a promise. [ laughter ] and yet he still has not put a single credible plan on the table with throughout deal with the debt crisis. >> i'm sorry, martha. with all due respect, this is a bunch of malarkey. >> what does that mean? >> it's irish. >> no, irish is i come over there and smack that dumb look off your face. >> that was last night's "snl" spoofing thursday's vice presidential debate. throughout the show this morning, we'll be bringing you memorable moments of debating
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history. do debates change elections? thanks to our partners at the university of virginia's miller center, we have a panel to discuss it. to my right, as always, george will. to my left, donna brazile who was al gore's campaign manager in 2000. next to donna, we're joined by two former presidential candidates. former house speaker newt gingrich, who debated mitt romney countless times while battling him for the republican nomination. and former connecticut senator chris dodd who squared off with barack obama in 2008. in the presidential primaries. richard norton smith of george mason university is here. and finally, we're especially pleased to be joined by abc's senior foreign affairs correspondent martha raddatz. martha expertly moderated the debate thursday night. buzz feed gave you the nickname of badass supermoderator. so let's give martha a huge round of applause.
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[ applause ] >> thank you, thank you, thank you. >> and as you just saw, we have a great audience here at the newseum. thanks to you for joining us this morning. the question today, do presidential debates change elections? do they matter? the answer at first blush seems simple, of course debates matter. the candidates spend weeks, if not months, preparing. tv audiences are enormous. 67 million for the first meeting between romney and owe what. afterward, in our twitter-fueled, shortened attention span news cycle, the performances are talked about. years, even decades later. here's richard nixon. ruing the a lack of preparation that led to the performance with jack kennedy 11 years before. >> running the [ bleep ] schedule is so hard, we didn't learn from the other --
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>> reporter: yet, for all the hype, there's little evidence that debates make much difference in election outcomes. in an nail sis of the ten presidential contests between 1960 and 2008, abc news found just one where a debate appearance seemed to change the election. it was 1980. >> are you better off than you were four years ago? >> reporter: when president ronald reagan uttered that one line. president obama hopes that one exception is the only one. >> that debate. what happened? >> coverager romney had a good night. i had a bad night. >> how bad? >> it's not the first time i had a bad night. what is important is the fundamental of what this race is about haven't changed. >> karl rove wrote that the first debate will be seen as the decision point in this election.
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do we make too big a deal out of debates? or does mr. rove have a point? >> we make too big a deal in that it's hard to argue that debates test or reveal aptitudes that are pertinent to the performance of presidential duties. debates are now semiconstitutional events. you cannot become president without participating. clearly, in close elections, '60, '76, 2000, it's plausible to say they caused enough change to be the margin of difference. with regard to this year's, it's too soon to say whether the surge mitt romney got from his debate performance is enough or not. if it is durable, it will be because what happens in debates that matter, they catalyze and inchoate feeling they had and it becomes articulate, present,
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and powerful. >> donna, you were campaign manager for vice president al gore. how important were those debates? >> well, first of all, you notice i was holding my breath when you said that. didn't want to have an audible sigh. i might have trouble with the handsome men to my left. god forbid what happens if the two of us are ever on "dancing with the stars." i'll take the lead, by the way. there's no question they do matter. because millions of viewers are tuning in for the first time. they get an opportunity to look at these two men, so far, men, and to take a look at whether or not what they have heard on tv or watched over the past few weeks is actually true. so they matter. and that's why we spent a lot of time rehearsing. prepping. and trying to get, you know,
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three months of sound bites into two minutes, so they come across as concise and clear. and energetic. >> speaker gingrich, you debated governor romney many times. widely seen as a strong debater. then came florida. >> i'm not anti-immigrant. my father was born in mexico. my wife's father was born in wales. they came to this country. the idea that i'm anti-immigrant is repulsive. don't use a term like that. >> a very forceful performance by mitt romney. what did you learn by that performance that president obama needs to know? >> my wife said if he were as prepared and aggressive with obama as he was -- i won a lot of debates. when it finally came down to the crunch, he did what he had to do. he was very aggressive. he was very assertive. what was a surprise was not that he was as good as he was. people underestimate him. this guy went to harvard business school and harvard law
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school simultaneously. he's a very hard-working, very methodical person. what surprised me was the emptiness on the other side. what made that debate so startling, romney was better than people expected. and owe what was unbelievably less capable than people expected. it was the matchup that made it extraordinary. one of the points craig shirley made on the 1980 campaign, that may be the one place where clearly the debate was decisive. i think carter may well have won without that debate. the 1960 debate, kennedy suddenly became a peer of nixon's. the vice president versus a young senator. they're virtually even after the first debate. i think that what romney did -- if he had had as bad a debate as obama, we would be sitting here talking about the election being over. that's how big that is. there are two more rounds here. it means romney got himself back into contention in one night.
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>> senator dodd, you debated president obama repeatedly in 2007, as you sought the democratic nomination. you were a big part of one of the most important moments of that series of debates. let's go to a clip. >> failed. we have failed. >> no, no, no. you said yes, you thought it made sense to do it. >> no, i didn't, chris. the point is, what are we going to do with all the illegal immigrants? >> that's a legitimate issue. driver's license goes too far. >> well, you may say that. but what is the identification? if somebody runs into you today that is an undocumented worker -- >> there's ways of dealing with it. it's a privilege, not a right. >> first of all, what is going through your mind in a moment like that? and also, just secondarily, do you buy the suggestion that president obama was not a great debater and was overhyped? >> a lot of questions there. first of all, i think in that moment, i was asking the
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question that the audience was asking at that moment. a difficult moment for hillary clinton. her governor in new york was talking about granting licenses. she was not wanting to put herself at odds with her own governor. i asked a question that a moderator might have asked. i think george has it right. the debates that newt gingrich and i went through in the primary process are different than the ones at the presidential level. we're dealing with constituencies where you have to check certain boxes in order to become a credible candidate. when you get to the presidential debate and have been chosen, issues are still very important. but i think george will has it right. at that point, we're looking for something else. these issues become portals of making decisions about whether the individual is capable of taking on the most important job in the world. they're important. it's about character. your ability to express the emotions the country is feeling. the difficulties they're going through. there's a significant difference in my view. in terms of how the public looks at these engagements.
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we're only halfway there. there are six hours of presidential and vice presidential debates. three hours of yet to come. i think we're getting ahead of ourselves in many ways by determining the race is over. barack obama is a very talented person. i served on three -- two committees in the senate with him. spent how many hours in forums. this is a very talented, committed individual who i think won the election in 2008 because he brings a passion and understanding to these issues. i would be very careful about writing him off at this point. in my view. i think he could come back very strongly this coming week and thereafter. obviously, we're talking about his coming back because of what happened. and clearly, he opened the door and energized the base. the republican base. the independents who may have written him off entirely. debates are important. what happened a week or so ago is important. but what remains to be done here is equally is not more important.
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>> richard norton smith, dick nixon didn't have to deal with facebook, twitter, cable news. put this in perspective. how much does that new media change what happens in a debate? >> i think it transforms the experience of watching and assessing what it is we see. that clip from "saturday night live" makes the point. in 1960, we had a shared experience. close to half the population sat down. it was the first time this had ever happened. novelty was a huge factor. we had a lot fewer intermediaries interpreting what we were seeing. the next day we discussed it at the water cooler. "saturday night live" is our water cooler. the debates, over time, have become an inseparable part of the pop culture. part of the 24/7 news cycle.
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my hunch is -- and the other big thing is because of the social media, instead of watching and listening, we're commenting. we're offering our own instant analysis as the debate is unfolding. that has to change what the experience is, what you're getting out of it, what you're putting into it. and my hunch is if you look at, over time, the audiences for the debates in relative terms, compared to population, has diminished. i think correspondingly, to the extent that people see them as scripted entertainment events, i think they give less weight in determining how they vote. >> martha, you studied many, many past debates in preparing for your moderating. what did you learn goes into a game-changing moment? >> i think one of the things is sort of exactly what we're talking about, too. looking at the camera, were they look away, gesturing in big ways? it's getting the message through throughout the 90 minutes.
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i love saying this. i completely agree with george will on this. we all do about what it means. it's that 90 minutes. you see those candidates for 90 entire minutes. they have to get the message out. i mean, there were times sitting that table, i could see both of them thinking, what haven't i said? what haven't i said? what haven't i said? getting them off-message is the challenge. but i do think it's such a fascinating test to see them in that forum. and for the public to see for the first time them in that forum for 90 entire minutes. >> george, have debates made differences before? other than 1960? >> the most consequential debate in history involved two illinois senate candidates. it was one of the seven in the lincoln-douglas debates in freeport when lincoln
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asked the freeport question. douglas clearly, and to his detriment endorsed slavery in the territories and much of american history flew. but, yes, they did. kennedy wins in 1960 by about one vote per precinct. the debate had to make that much difference. 1976, gerald ford seemed to catalyze the belief he was, perhaps, befuddled, when he got crosswise with himself. in 1980, ronald reagan said, there you go again, people said, he's not a madman at all. perfectly nice fellow. in 1988, when michael dukakis was asked about capital punishment and his wife, people said he's cold, he's a technocrat. and we don't much care for that. in 1992, president bush looked at his watch. and people said, he's detached. he doesn't really care for us. and then, donna, there were the sighs on the part of al gore. people said, he's a bit of a stuffed shirt.
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>> in terms of the importance of "saturday night live" gore aides actually made al gore watch "saturday night live's" representations of his debate to show him how he was perceived. do we make too big a deal of those things? the sigh, the smiles? >> i mean, when you're preparing someone for these historic gatherin gatherings, you're focused on the substance. here are the policy positions. what your opponent is saying. you get there, it's stage craft and you're like, the eyes and the movement of the hands. >> and the split screens. >> the split screens. i'm sure the president will be advised to look up, smile, and don't roll his eyes. just stay focused on candy crowley, as a person. and the next debate is more important, because you're connecting with the questioner, the real people at the town hall debate. george mentioned, i was looking at the numbers. '84, reagan botched the first
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one. he said he was overtrained, overprepared. not quite ready for the first encounter with walter mondale. and in 2004, when, once again, the negotiations and the bush people said that they wanted the first question on national security. george bush was not prepared. john kerry was. he tightened the race. >> speaker gingrich, i want to ask you, the president was criticized for seeming lackluster in his responses. do you think the stylistic things matter? >> i think george had it right in the sense that -- character is part of, ultimately, you don't know what crisis will emerge a year from now. the character of the person does matter. you had it right. 90 minutes with no editing, no breaks. you begin to watch these two people interact with the moderator. you get a different sense than you do from tv commercials. i thought romney was helped.
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because the obama campaign spent three months portraying him as a person he's not. people saw him and said, wait a second. that's not the guy i have been frightened about. just as reagan in 1980 was suddenly more reasonable than the carter caricature of him was. so these things do matter, i think. and think the challenge for president obama was -- a little bit like george h.w. bush -- i got the sense that first night that he wasn't there to compete. he -- you know -- if you wanted to give help the presidency again, it would be all right. he would be happy to show up. he wasn't saying, here's what i have done, here's what i will do, here's why it matters. and that came through. i think obama was a much bigger shock in the first debate than romney was. >> in thinking about whether these debates are important or should be as important thaas th are, just imagine we have the lincoln-douglas format.
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first person talked for and hour. the second person talked for an hour and a half. then the first person responded to that. they did that seven times, without amplified sound. in front of audiences, none of whom could vote for them. >> good luck pitching that. senator dodd, is the debate aftermath just as important? the spin? >> oh, sure. the point made earlier about this is -- i suspect, the next cycle of debate will involve interactivity i suppose. where people will literally have on the screen, not just a split screen of the candidates but actually the comments being made by the public at large, as you continue to debate. we'll see i think a generation of new technology providing greater opportunities for interactivity. the after is critically important. the commentary goes on. we don't have the opportunity to think about what we have seen and react to it. we're being told instantaneously how you're supposed to react to it. that makes a difference. also how the candidates and their teams react.
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just one quick anecdote. there's a bill-signing ceremony with president reagan after the first debate. very shortly thereafter. i thought i'm going to go down. not because i want to be at the bill signing. i want to see how the president's reacting. i walked into the oval office. it was as if the night before he had gone to a movie. i'll never forget it. he say, come on in, can i get you a cup of coffee? he was devastated last night. his reaction was, that was last night, this was today. he should move forward. once the debate is over, move forward. the fact we have been dwelling on it for the last ten days, i don't think it helps. i think you have to move beyond this. not only how the media deals with it but how the campaigns deal with it can sustain the impressions. they need to put it behind them. >> we have about a minute left. in this section of the show. martha, my first impression off
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the debate was, this is a big night for jason sudeikis. the guy that plays on "saturday night live." does this weigh on your mind? >> first of all, let me tell you something. i didn't see paul ryan drinking all that water. ever. when i was asking, you're so in the moment, you're asking joe biden a question. i think right away, you knew what the strategy was. i think one of the things joe biden did was in the intimate table, very small. he was too big. he was like he was at a campaign event. you could feel that, especially at that table. that joe biden was so aggressive. there were surprises there. i was surprised at paul ryan, that he didn't jump in more. that was clearly the strategy. when you walk off, you're not sure how it went. >> we have to take a quick break. we'll be back in 60 seconds to hear about whether a presidential debate has changed your vote. first, a look at the 1988 debate. >> i don't see this, incidentally, as a democrat or republican or liberal or conservative idea.
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i see an involvement by 1,000 points of light. >> 1,000 points of light, i don't know what that means. >> all i can say is, we are on the track. we're getting the job done. we can do more. but let's stay the course. 1,000 points of light. >> governor dukakis, rebuttal? >> i can't believe i'm losing to this guy. >> i can't believe i'm losing to this guy. choose to do. you do what you do... because it matters. at hp we don't just believe in the power of technology. we believe in the power of people when technology works for you. to dream. to create. to work. if you're going to do something. make it matter. there's natural gas under my town. it's a game changer. ♪ it means cleaner, cheaper american-made energy.
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but we've got to be careful how we get it. design the wells to be safe. thousands of jobs. use the most advanced technology to protect our water. billions in the economy. at chevron, if we can't do it right, we won't do it at all. we've got to think long term. we've got to think long term. ♪ ♪ why don't they ♪ why don't they do what they say, say what they mean ♪ we're going in the right direction. this country's going in the wrong direction. i have to defend the honor of my state. >> when i started as governor, we were 50th in adult literacy. i'm proud to say, last year, we shot ahead of mississippi. we're number 49 and we're closing in fast on alabama. watch out, alabama, we got your number. >> the late great phil hartman doing his memorable impression of bill clinton in 1992. welcome back to our panel and the audience.
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our topic, today, of course, do presidential debates change election campaigns? we put this question to you at home. let's take a look. >> like a lot of republicans who are real conservatives, not the neoconservatives we see today, i'm concerned about where the gop is going. debates did nothing to change my opinion of mitt romney or the strategy of the republican party. and so for the first time in my life, i'm going to vote for a democrat. >> reporter: that was michael may of california. he was not the only one who said a debate did not change his vote. nicole does her own research. she believes the candidates only say in debates what they think we want to hear. >> i was astonished at the creativity and innovation that exists in the american people. >> because of the resilience and determination of the american people, we've begun to fight our way back. >> reporter: and many of you
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agreed with this comment, that the ability to debate well does not convert to the ability to governor a country, a state or otherwise. we did hear from viewers influenced by a debate. more than one told us the first romney obama debate swung their vote from obama to romney. >> you're entitled to your own airplane and house, but not your own facts. >> reporter: two of you said you changed your vote after a debate only to regret it. for margaret, it was ross perot's 1992 debate performance. >> i'm all ears. >> reporter: some of you said it made you more or less comfortable with your choice. finally, a thought we know richard norton smith will appreciate. a television debate might be sir received as a sort of historical document. the role can go beyond the current voting season and reach future voters. as it has for milestone debates of the past. some great thoughts there. thanks for weighing in. you can continue the
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conversation online today at twitter and on facebook. we're back with our all-star panel of experts. i would like to get a final thought from each of you. the big question, do presidential debates change elections? and what are you looking for in the last two debates? senator dodd, i'll start with you. >> maybe. i think what george will said earlier. we don't know about this one yet. we have three more hours left. the good news. but that's the bad news, too. only halfway there, because they are so scripted. my hope is, i believe this will be the case. in preparing if for debates, i strongly advise the staffs, let the candidates be themselves. so often, they wire you up. anticipate a question. it never happens the way they plan it to happen. my advice to president obama is to let him be the senator and candidate he was in 2008. he'll do beautifully. >> don't overprepare. >> right. >> if president obama has one
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more debate as bad as the first one, he'll be in enormous trouble. i assume he'll fight his way back. he couldn't take a second debate as bad as the first without seeing the race blow wide open. there are two patterns here. one is the very short quip that changes everything. ronald reagan saying i'm not going to take advantage of my opponent's youth and inexperience. i think that ended the race for mondale. i think biden, sometimes it's the whole 90 minutes. you can't interrupt 82 times in 41 minutes and not -- it would have been great gimmick three times. 82 times, you look like a caricature of yourself. >> we're going take a quick break and hear from the rest of the panel when we come back. >> if i'm entrusted with the presidency, i'll balance the budget every year. i'll pay down the national debt. i'll put medicare and social security in a lock box and protect them. >> now, one of the keys to the lock box will be kept by the president.
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the other key would be sealed in a small, magnetic container and placed under the bumper of the senate majority leader's car. ♪ [ male announcer ] how do you turn an entrepreneur's dream... ♪ into a scooter that talks to the cloud? ♪ or make 70,000 trades a second... ♪ reach one customer at a time? ♪ how do you help doctors turn billions of bytes of shared information... ♪ into a fifth anniversary of remission? ♪ or turn 30-million artifacts...
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we're back now with our all-star panel of experts. historian richard norton smith, do debates matter? and what are you looking for in the last two final debates? >> i think we've established they matter. i have enough trouble understanding the past to predict the future. i will suggest one reform. one legacy of 1980, late in the campaign, one week before the campaign, the carter and reagan camps were debating over the debate. it went well for governor reagan. swept him into office. the decision was made thereafter, whatever we do in the future, we're not going to repeat the mistake.
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why do you think we have all four debates shoe-horned into narrow window in october? why not stretch them out from labor day until a week before the election? and then maybe as senator dodd points out, we would have more time to reflect on what we have heard. >> or too much time to reflect. i don't know. stretching them all out. yeah, they matter. but, you know, looking back at those other debates, as we have this morning, i think people have to remember that what you hear is not necessarily going to happen. and there are promises kept or we're going to do this and that, it doesn't really come out to be true. i think tuesday's debate is a very different type of debate. it's the town hall. i think both men will do very well with the audience. it's probably easier for them because you have a live audience, like this one you
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relate to them in a didn't way than you do just with a moderator or each other. >> mr. will? >> certainly, they matter. newt cites 1984 when the 39 said, i'm not going to take advantage of my opponent's youth. he carried 49 states. that wasn't the key to the landslide. >> walter mondale said that was the moment he realized he was going to lose. >> that was probably the moment. >> second, the format will matter. the next debate with the interacting with the audience will be part of the oprah-fication of american politics. where we elect the national talk show host. i think it's unfortunate that we do this. everyone will be watching to see how mr. obama strikes a balance between catatonia and mania. will he be -- will he be like joe biden and people saying, where is the ritalin? >> okay, donna, last thought. >> first of all, think the democrats have to just stop trying to fact-check the
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republicans every time they open their mouths and get back to talking to the american people. tell the country where we're going over the next four years. if mitt romney wants to pivot to a moderate or liberal, have the conversation four years from now. talk to the american people, they want to hear about the future. >> all right, that's all the time we have. we're going take a break. we'll be back with a final word in a moment. >> we want to thank our hosts in nashville and the commission on presidential debates. and you're in my way of my script there. if you'll move. >> how do we, as a people, come together? let me tell you another story i've never shared before. at first, i thought we had a little something in common. over the course of working together, year in, year out, talking to each other. was all about arrests... chasing bad guys.
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♪ take me down to the paradise city ♪ middle income families are being crushed. and so the question is, how do get them going again. i've described it. energy and trade. the right kind of training programs. >> excuse me, governor. mr. president? >> yeah, what's up? >> governor romney just said he killed osama bin laden. [ laughter ] would you care to respond? >> no, you two go ahead.
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that's all we have time for this morning. thank you very much to our wonderful panel. this has been a terrific discussion. the discussion continues online today. donna brazile and speaker gingrich will answer your questions on twitter. use hash tag this week. @donnabrazile and @newtgingrich. thank you to our friends and partners at the miller center. they study the presidency, policy, political history and applies the lessons to the toughest challenges we face today. visit millercenter.org. that's all for us today. thanks for sharing part of your sunday with us. check out "world news" with david muir tonight. and tune in tuesday for special coverage of one on one, the candidates debate. george stephanopoulos will be back here next week. thank you, one and all. now you can applaud. [ applause ] back here next week.
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>> in the news this sun a live look as the space shuttle endeavour crawls closer to its new home in southern california. and they are now climbing into the stratosphere, trying to become the first skydiver to break the sound barrier. and from our sutro camera, look at all the fog. this is from above but down at the surface poor visibility. we are talking less than a quarter mile in some spots. delays at sfo but clearing is still on tap.